A ‘sixth sense’ which goes beyond the basic five senses of taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing, has apparently been discovered in America

A ‘sixth sense’ really does exist, scientists claim – but it’s got nothing to do with being able to see dead people.

Researchers in America say they have discovered the ‘intuition’ gene , which goes beyond the basic five senses of taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing.

This apparent sixth sense affects ‘proprioception’ or body awareness.

The discovery was made with the help of two young patients with a rare genetic neurological disorder who have a mutation in the ‘Piezo2’ gene affecting their body awareness.

When blindfolded, the pair were completely unable to walk without falling.

They also couldn’t track the position of their arms and legs as researchers gently moved them – something most people can do without looking.

While they were insensitive to certain kinds of touch, the pair – aged nine and 19 – could still feel pain, itch, temperature and gentle brushing.

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Neurologist Dr Carsten Bonnemann, of the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, US, said: “Our study highlights the critical importance of Piezo2 and the senses it controls in our daily lives.

“The results establish Piezo2 is a touch and proprioception gene in humans.

“Understanding its role in these senses may provide clues to a variety of neurological disorders.”

The two unrelated patients both have difficulties walking, possessing hip, finger and foot deformities and abnormally curved spines diagnosed as progressive scoliosis.

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Dr Bonnemann discovered the patients have mutations in Piezo2 which seem to block the normal production or activity of proteins in cells generating electrical nerve signals.

Co-author Dr Alexander Chesler said: “As someone who studies Piezo2 in mice working with these patients was humbling.

“Our results suggest they are touch-blind. The patient’s version of Piezo2 may not work so their neurons cannot detect touch or limb movements.”

Scientist examining test tube in laboratory
Scientists say the Piezo2 gene is linked to our ‘sixth sense’ and relates to body awareness (Photo: Getty)

The researchers found blindfolding made it harder for them to reliably reach for an object in front of their faces than it was for unaffected volunteers.

The patients were also less sensitive to certain forms of touch.

They could not feel vibrations from a buzzing tuning fork as well as the control subjects could.

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But the patients’ nervous systems appeared to be developing normally. They were able to feel pain, itch and temperature normally.

The nerves in their limbs conducted electricity rapidly and their brains and cognitive abilities were similar to healthy controls of their age.

Dr Bonnemann said: “What’s remarkable about these patients is how much their nervous systems compensate for their lack of touch and body awareness.”

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine .

Source: ‘Sixth sense does exist’ scientists claim – but it’s nothing to do with ghosts – Mirror Online